ARSO is an intergovernmental Organisation established by the Organization of African Unity (OAU, currently African Union (AU)) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in 1977, with 21 African Governments, including Cameroon as founding members.
The principal mandate of ARSO is to harmonise African Standards and conformity assessment procedures in order to reduce Technical Barriers to Trade and therefore promote intra-African and international Trade as well as enhance the industrialization of Africa, thus ARSO:
- Harmonises national and/or sub-regional standards as African Standards and issues necessary recommendations to member bodies for this purpose;
- Initiates and co-ordinates the development of African Standards (ARS) with reference to products which are of peculiar interest to Africa;
- Encourages and facilitates adoption of international standards by member bodies;
- Promotes and facilitate exchange of experts, information and co-operation in training of personnel in standardisation activities;
- Co-ordinates the views of its members at the ISO, IEC, OIML, Codex and other international organisations concerned with standardisation activities;
- Creates appropriate bodies in addition to the organs of the organisation for the purposes of fulfilling its objectives.
Currently ARSO has 36 member States (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, New State of Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).
The ARSO Standardisation Agenda is driven by AU Decisions on specific areas of interest, the latest of which is the AU Conference of Ministers of Trade, 9th Ordinary Session 01– 05 December 2014, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, viz:
- All AU Member States that are currently not Members of ARSO should endeavor to attain membership by the year 2017;
- ARSO and other Pan African Standards organisations to refer to the year 2017 as African year of Quality Infrastructure;
- The AUC and ARSO should increase awareness and mobilize all stakeholders on the role of Quality Infrastructure;
- The AUC and Quality Infrastructure Institutions should assess the status of Quality Infrastructure in Africa; and develop a Strategic Plan on Quality Infrastructure in Africa.
The AUC and ARSO to develop a work plan on Quality Infrastructure to be submitted to the Senior Officials meeting.
The General Assembly composed of the ARSO members is the Supreme organ of ARSO. The Council administers, in accordance with the policy laid down by ARSO, the ARSO Programmes. The decisions of the Council are executed by the Central Secretariat.
The 55th Council meeting was held on 23rd – 25th November 2016 in the City of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, at the headquarters of the Groupement Interpatronal du Cameroun (GICAM)/Inter-Employers (Inter-Management) Group of Cameroon – GICAM).
The 55th Council meeting was officially opened by the HON. ERNEST NGWABOUBOU, Minister for Mines, Industry and Technological Development.
HON. ERNEST NGWABOUBOU, Minister for Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Cameroon officially opening the 55th ARSO Council Meeting events hosted by the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, through the Agence des Normes et de la Qualité (ANOR) on 23rd – 25th November 2016, at GICAM, Douala Cameroon.
The Council meeting is being held when the African Continent is focusing on the implementation of AU’s Agenda 2063 which is a roadmap to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation of the continent within the next 50 years. The balance of evidence suggests that the next half century in Africa offers good prospects for realizing the African vision of a dynamic, diversified and competitive economic zone, a new economic frontier, an important growth pole for economic recovery AND THE HOPE OF THE WORLD.
It is predicted that Africa’s overall growth momentum will continue, with GDP growth expected to accelerate to 4.6% in 2015 and 4.9% in 2016 (United Nations 2014 ) after subdued expansion in 2013 (3.5%) and 2014 (3.9% (AfDB et al. 2015).
Hon. NGWABOUBOU emphasised on the importance of standardisation in Africa’s Industrialisation Agenda and economic development and the important role of ARSO in spearheading the standardisation Agenda.
In his address the Hon. Minister reiterated the Economic importance of Trade and the Africa’s transformation process to boost Global and Intra-Africa’s trade with regard to Agenda 2063 and the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.
And in fielding questions to the Journalist the Hon. Minister reiterated the Commitment of the Government of the Republic of Cameroon in Africa’s Integration Agenda and the role standardisation is expected to play in achieving the Cameroon Vison 2035.
Cameroon Vision 2035 outlines the goals and priorities for the country in becoming an emerging economy by 2035. The Vision highlights Cameroon’s desire to develop its industries, substantially increase exports, provide import substitution, and open local markets to foreign investments.